There is a debate about Pakistan’s international isolation subscribing to Indian dominated international media. The unkindest cut is through leads termed “blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented”. In a realist paradigm where Pakistan is being subjected to kinetic and non-kinetics attrition there is neither space for selfish stratagems nor pacifist journalism. The truth is far and between. Why don’t we accept that the consequences of going nuclear in 1998 were obvious and Pakistan failed to neither realise nor do its homework? Now that Pakistan faces the consequences, controversies and not books have been opened to complete the assignment.

Pakistan is engineering its own isolation through a yawning policy gap. In contrast, India is carrying out swift diplomatic manoeuvres. Sri Lanka, a long time Pakistan friend is drifting away. Afghanistan and Bangladesh that Pakistan helped into SAARC and cricket are Indian allies. India has engaged Iran far more than Pakistan. SAARC is dead while India has engaged all its members through BRICS, BIMSTEC and Indian Ocean Rim Alliance. The ECO despite cosmetic expansion is nonfunctional. The OIC is but a name. Other than is geographical proximity, what has Pakistan to offer in SCO. Pakistan is shying away from playing a balancer between KSA and Iran.

The post-Cold War era transformed diplomacy in many ways. Just like warfare is not the sole domain of armies, the foreign policy too has become multi spectrum, getting its ultimate direction through a cohesive national policy. This function assumes more importance due to nuclear deterrence regimes in South Asia, globalization, trans-nationalism, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), information highway, terrorism and diversity in employment of non-state actors as hitmen. Political economy in all-encompassing character has eclipsed standalone diplomacy, military strategy, nuclear strategy, economics, trade, dependency and the list goes on. Unless all capabilities, vulnerabilities and potentials are not laid bare, there can be no viable policy spectrum. Pakistan is still caught in the Cold War syndrome, balancing one against the other.

National security is no more confined to territories. It also means security through other means. The diplomats in foreign office have to wear many hats while being assisted by experts in specialized fields to direct the thrust of policies towards common national purpose. Such a debate in Pakistan’s policy making circles and parliament is conspicuously absent.

Nuclear Deterrence by nature means war avoidance. This did not mean that conflicts cease to exist; rather they move to the vulnerable periphery. South American conflicts, Vietnam, Jungle War in Malaysia and Afghanistan were all fueled due to Soviet, Chinese and US proxies. While USSR occupied Afghanistan, invisible non state actors were let lose in USSR. These included ethno nationalists, sub nationalists, religion and economic effects created by the countervailing global markets. The emerging information highway swept aside Soviet notions of Perestroika and Glasnost and the empire crumbled under its own weight. This had a domino effect on Eastern Europe. Sentiments that spurred violence also included economic disparity and historical predispositions.

Europe has a rich and bloody experience of destroying the Muslim World. It began with the defeat of the Ottomans in a fashion similar to Soviet Union through orchestrated Arab Nationalism. Middle East became a bloody sphere of Cold War between US and Soviet proxies. The notion of Pan Islamism though romantic never took flight. The Arab world is torn between tribal rivalries, sectarianism and interpretations of religion for divergent policies. At the heart lies the consolidation of the Southern Front, rich in hydrocarbon resources that feed the world with ideologies that can be exported to tame other Muslim countries. Pakistan though oblivious is one of them, not knowing how to play the cards and often seen counting money on the table. It has no proactive counter plans. There has been no global initiative spearheaded by its foreign office for a long time. While India is weaving its policies around prevailing perceptions, Pakistan’s sits like a duck in shark infested waters looking at how many distortions the waves make.

This was certainly not the roadmap framed to argue a nuclear capability. The main thrust in 1988 was a prolonged peace for socio-economic development. Post nuclear; based on its realized and realizable national power, Pakistan needed a new national narrative on its short, mid and long term objectives. However having reluctantly conceded to nuclear testing, the prime minister in his malice decided to have his own way thereafter. He seized Pakistan’s foreign currency accounts putting economy in a tailspin. When General Jehanghir Karamat insisted on an informed discourse through the Council for Defence and National Security, he was forced to resign. Thus was lost the entire rationale for an economically secure and developed Pakistan. This rationale is still in wilderness. Pakistan became a derelict ship between deep sea and hard rocks.

Readers must recall that Benazir Bhutto insisted to recognize the Afghan Taliban government on own terms. These included power sharing with the Northern Alliance and recognition of Durand Line. In November 1996, she was removed in a mid-night Presidential coup. Ahmad Shah Masood and subsequently Benazir Bhutto met violent ends. PMLN emerged with a gratified two thirds majority. It compromised Pakistan’s interests by recognizing Afghan Taliban under US and Saudi pressure.

Kargil was certainly a brilliant tactical manoeuvrebut out of tune with the tide and times. Though the prime minister knew of the plan even before he appointed the new COAS, invitation to the Indian Prime Minister was most embarrassing. This ‘no way but my way’ attitude created acrimony that led to the coup of October.

Despite President Musharraf’s initial administrative and economic successes, manipulations through political economy gathered pace. Fly by night reformers who gathered around him were opportunists and economic hitmen. They wasted the unprecedented influx of foreign remittances and created a consumer bubble that could be deflated at will. Deflation was synchronized with the judicial crises and rest is history. It was not the enemy but Pakistan’s chosen few who did the trick.

The two governments that have followed have done nothing to turn back the clock. Development in human resource, agriculture, infrastructure and industries is incidental. The same fly by night reformers are nested in three main political parties. Governments are a product of reconciliation reached after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Rather than manifest the aspirations of the people and the cause Benazir died for, they reflect the evils of global political economy determined to keep Pakistan on a ventilator.

This is the main reason why the National Action Plan has exposed the deep divide between the defence and political establishments and the reason why Dawn leads were created to justify future events. Typical of many ‘no way but my way’ incidents the government will play its duplicity. The lock down by PTI in Islamabad will expose many more skeletons in the cupboard; precisely why a newspaper chose the supposed high moral pedestal.

While India is weaving its policies around prevailing perceptions, Pakistan’s sits like a duck in shark infested waters looking at how many distortions the waves make.